Honey, I Shrunk the Hero1 of 12Spoilers ahead for Ant-Man. Between the bigness, the smallness, and everything in between, Ant-Man had a lot going on.
While not the scale of Marvel's other films (what's the last action movie had its final fight in a young girl's bedroom?), Ant-Man brought in some familiar elements that make up the Marvel brand while adding a few new tricks.
But size can be deceiving. Despite not being Marvel's biggest movie, the Peyton Reed-led film touched on several corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and some ties to the original comic books that may gone above the head or under the radar of some fans.
With that in mind, here are our top takeaways from Marvel’s Ant-Man.
The Quantum Realm2 of 12
Ant-Man has played around in the Microverse in comic books before, but the usage of it – under the new name of the Quantum Realm – in Ant-Man puts it front-and-center in the revised mythos of the Ant-Man character. And the way Peyton Reed and his screenwriters framed it, it’s a strange new world waiting to be explored, and understood.
Did we say "Strange"?
Sccording to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, the Quantum Realm may tie in directly with Dr. Strange, as he told CinemaBlend over the weekend, “If you look up the study of quantum mechanics, when you get down that small, as Hank Pym says, space time is meaningless, and there’s a lot of that stuff that applies to Doctor Strange. So this is sort of an appetizer for, ‘If you think this is weird…’”
While it might seem more science-y than magic-y, the Quantum Realm looks like an interesting crossroads for a new take on magic that Doctor Strange could provide.
Father/Daughter Dynamics3 of 12
Ant-Man isn’t the first movie showing superheroes with children (see Hawkeye or sadly, even Drax), but the distinct keying in to two pairs of daughters and dads gives a real personal, dare I say Disney-fied touch to the film. Imagine taking out those elements and you’d have a sci-fi movie with comedy, but no real core.
In a similar vein, Scott Lang’s Ant-Man is officially the MCU’s first legacy character, but by the end of the film, those who stayed through the credits know he won’t be the last. But what if the film is also setting the stage for Cassie Lang’s superhero career? Abby Ryder Fortson, who played Cassie in the film, is only 7 years old now, but she’ll be a teenager by the time Marvel’s Phase 4 rolls around. Could a stint as Stature of the Young Avengers be in her future?
Cold War Era, Revisited4 of 12Marvel may be framed as “the world outside your window,” but in the MCU they’re continuing to develop the Cold War era between modern day and Captain America: The First Avenger into something special. Agent Carter’s titular star played a key role in the opening scene of Ant-Man, furthered by the return of John Slattery as Howard Stark. That time period was hammered again in the two scenes showing Pym-as-Ant-Man (and with Janet Van Dyne beside him) in the 1970s and 1980s.
While it’s a possibility that Agent Carter is the only project that’s allowed free range in the post-WW2 to modern day time period, the way Marvel continues to flesh out the mid-to-late 20th Century is intriguing for its possibilities of doing more.
Remember, Marvel has tested doing books as period pieces such as with Avengers 1959, Agents of Atlas and Marvel: The Lost Generation before. What if Nick Fury’s Avengers weren’t the first proper superhero team the MCU had?
Ant-Man 2: The Search For Wasp5 of 12
The last ten minutes of Ant-Man actively began setting up sequel material between the mid-credits scene of Hope Van Dyne receiving a Wasp suit to the reveal that the Quantum Realm was manageable by Rudd (and Pym’s subsequent vacant but searching stare).
Whereas the first film was a story about fathers-and-daughters, a second could see the rise of two Wasps – Hope Van Dyne taking the suit from the mid-credits scene, and also the rescue of her mother Janet from the Quantum Realm.
Although no Ant-Man sequel is on the books yet, if the box office is sufficient and Rudd’s role in Captain America: Civil War primes him even more, the story is already there for them to move forward. And, to add to the mix, Kevin Feige told Yahoo Movies that Wasp would appear in a Marvel Phase 3 film. Could she show up as early as Civil War, where Paull Rudd's Ant-Man is already a confirmed participant?
The Marvel Method6 of 12There’s a theory that there are only seven basic plots for fiction, with everything else being a permutation of those ideas. In some ways, Ant-Man is that – but it also circles back on some previous stories in MCU lore.
Evil industrialist takes over aging noble character’s company and attempts to subvert it and sell its technology to the highest bidder, only to be stopped by a founder’s child attempting to reclaim their heritage. Sound like Ant-Man? It also sounds like the original Iron Man.
Two of Marvel’s most popular solo characters are loveable rogues who are known to play fast-and-loose with the opposite sex. We have Tony Stark, Peter Quill, and now Scott Lang. Paul Rudd’s played roles such as these before, but casting him and bringing that baggage – shored up by the original script – looks like Marvel attempting to strike gold again with that formula.
Lastly, there’s the common trope of an aging mentor whose chosen pupil does them wrong, leading them to find another to avenge themselves. It’s Star Wars’ story of Obi-Wan, Anakin and Luke, and many other fictional works before and since. 1998’s Legend of Zorro took to it well, with even the subplot of the mentor’s daughter falling in love with her father’s new student being mirrored in Ant-Man.
That’s not to say that Ant-Man’s filmmakers swiped stories wholesale for a pastiche of their favorite movie elements. But it’s a familiar story, or a “tale as old as time” to borrow a phrase from another Disney movie.
Civil War: A Preamble7 of 12Did you feel lost with the end-credits scene of Ant-Man with Captain America, Falcon and the Winter Soldier? You’re supposed to. Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige said that that scene is actually a scene ripped from the dailies of Captain America: Civil War.
“I won’t tell you exactly where it is, but that’s photography from Civil War. That is a part of the movie - it’s dailies from a part of the movie.” Feige toldCinemaBlend. “Whether it will look exactly like that in the movie I think will shift a little bit, in terms of how we cut it, but that was footage shot for Civil War.”
So the reluctance for Cap and Falcon to call on Tony Stark isn’t something we missed—but something to be told in Marvel’s next movie. Same with the mention of “The Accords,” which sounds like a piece of legislation similar to the Superhero Registration act from the Civil War comic book series.
As for how Bucky Barnes got caught in the sheet metal press whispering “Help me,” that too should be revealed in Civil War. And, let’s not forget that the end of Ant-Man sees ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent – and current Hydra operative – Mitchell Carson get away with some of Darren Cross’s shrinking formula. Turns out, that getaway may have some ramifications in Civil War and beyond, as director Peyton Reed told CinemaBlend.
Ant-Man’s Got a Posse8 of 12
Ant-Man isn’t the first movie to have a large supporting cast, but it is the one to give them the most screen-time, dialogue, and moments to shine. The three-man gang of Michael Pena, T.I. and David Dastmalchian, along with the more trust-worthy family of Scott’s ex-wife Maggie, new husband Bobby and precocious daughter Cassie are potent additions to the movie.
Captain America: The First Avenger could’ve done without its Howling Commandos or Thor it’s Warriors Three, but without these two trios, Ant-Man would be a dry movie without much comedy or pathos. Michael Pena’s Luis also seems to have a little fight in him, and his Marvel connections go deeper than most supporting characters, as evidenced by his roundabout connection to the Falcon. Is it possible that Luis will go the way of other Marvel supporting characters like Erik Selvig and Pepper Potts and show up in future Marvel films?
Irascible Ant-Man9 of 12Although it’s a bit beneath the surface, there’s an interesting subtext for Hank Pym’s character in Ant-Man that could allude to anger issues that in the comic books led to him hitting Janet Van Dyne and sending the character down a dark road.
It all starts with the Quantum Realm; after Janet Van Dyne is seemingly lost in it, Pym says he spent ten years trying to find her. If you remember, earlier in the movie Pym warns that exposure to the Quantum Realm can have serious side effects mentally. Could Pym be speaking from first-hand experience?
Remember, in Pym’s second visit to his company’s headquarters he empties his pockets. In that assortment of change and keys is a medicine vial. While hardly damning given many people carry around medication, if Pym is indeed impaired mentally then could this medicine be a stop-gap to prevent it from showing?
The third potential clue is in two moments where a verbal confrontation causes Hank Pym to lash out; once in the beginning slapping his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague, but then also latter when he punches Darren Cross.
While each element individually could be explained away as a normal part of a person, when taken as a whole it does potential work as breadcrumbs to a deeper disturbance in Hank Pym’s psyche that comic book fans know all too well.
And it could be something future installments of the MCU Ant-Man storylines could jump on. If Cap and Iron Man are at odds in Captain America: Civil War, who's the next tech whiz you'd think of next in the MCU?
Irredeemable10 of 12
The adjective “Irredeemable” wasn’t tied to Ant-Man until the 2006 Irredeemable Ant-Man series, but this movie has a laser-like focus on the question of irredeemability permeating the movie. From Hank Pym’s attempt to redeem himself over what he sees as his culpability in the loss of his wife (and daughter, emotionally), to Scott Lang’s attempts to redeem himself in eyes of his daughter; and even Darren Cross’s twisted attempts to redeem himself outside the shadow of being Hank Pym’s protégé. In a more direct connection to the Irredeemable Ant-Man, many fans have pointed to Lang’s first shrinking adventure in a bathtub as a possible connection to Robert Kirkman’s fan-favorite series. Kirkman also received a thank you in the credits.
The Biggest Little Movie In Marvel11 of 12Marvel Studios’ has an impressive and arguably perfect track record for hit movies; so much so that the “Marvel” brand is a marquee name in itself, but also in that some fans are looking for their first big misstep. Guardians of the Galaxy became the little movie that could, and while Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t perfect, it still succeeded in earning $1.3 billion and continuing the formula of the landmark original. With Ant-Man following in those footsteps, there’s no way it could eclipse its predecessors in scale, setting or spectacle – but it did so, in a manner of speaking, by going small.
And I don’t just mean the shrinking.
By focusing on interpersonal moments such as fathers and daughters, as well as mentors and mentees, it was a more personal movie – albeit with special effects. The abnormal cast of co-stars with Rudd’s burglary crew and their comedic additions helped more so than Cap’s Howling Commandos or Thor’s Warriors 3, and Michael Pena’s voice-over flashbacks gave Ant-Man a signature both buzz-worthy and replicable down the line.
Ant-Man will never be Marvel’s biggest movie – no “small “ pun intended. But by making this small-scale movie (as small as the Marvel brand will allow), if Ant-Man is well-received and profitable, it could provide an ideal base level for Marvel movies that aren’t mega-blockbusters like Avengers but not the Marvel misstep some people are hoping for.
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